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Antistatic cloth: what you need to know

Antistatic cloth: what you need to know

There are many different factors to consider when constructing an ESD-safe cleanroom or manufacturing environment. Among these considerations is the question of what clothes are appropriate for use in an antistatic workplace. Several kinds of fabric present an ESD threat in a workplace, including the material used to make employee uniforms, carpeting, and cleaning supplies such as workstation towels. To this end, many companies elect to use a high volume of antistatic cloth-based products in order to ensure the lowest possible level of an accidental electrostatic discharge.

What Makes Antistatic Cloth so Special?

While it’s commonly found in garments for use in an electrostatically-sensitive work environment, antistatic cloth is specifically designed to be stronger and more reliable than what you’d typically find in a fabric garment or item, including water resistance and overall durability.

What products use Antistatic cloth?

Beyond garments and employee uniforms, antistatic cloth is also used in: workstation chairs, grounding straps, gloves, workplace mats, and packaging. The prevalence of the material in a manufacturing environment or clean room depends on the overall level of ESD safety that’s required; additionally, there are “categories” of antistatic cloth that rank the material’s overall resistance to a buildup of static electricity.

Antistatic cloth is not a “silver bullet” solution to common sources of ESD, however; the cloth should always be used in conjunction with common ESD safety measures such as antistat mats, workstations, and grounding straps. Companies should perform annual ESD safety audits in order to ensure that their warehouse and manufacturing environments are complying with a comprehensive ESD safety plan.

The  Dangers of Common Fabrics

There are innate ESD hazards that come with the clothing that an employee would typically wear to work, such as synthetic blend work trousers or a cotton t-shirt. The Electrostatic Discharge Association notes that “clothing materials, particularly those made of synthetic fabrics, can generate electrostatic charges that may discharge into ESDS or they may create electrostatic fields that may induce charges”.

Static control garments can significantly reduce the threat of ESD from an employee’s clothing; however, the ultimate ESD safety category (e.g. the measure of the fabric’s dissipation ability) ranking depends on the level of ground dissipation needed. An ESD Category 1 garment will mitigate much of the inherent static electricity of a garment; however, since Category 1 garments are not grounded, there’s still a possibility of accidental discharge. On the other end of the scale is a Category 3 garment, which “bonds the skin of the person to an identified ground path”, thus offering the greatest potential amount of ESD resistance.

Antistatic cloth garments come in a variety of styles, including lab coats, safety vests, t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, and trousers. When making a purchase, consult with your employees and safety supervisors in order to determine your team’s needs, desires, and goals.

Concerns with ESD Precautions? We Can Help

From antistatic garments to workstations, toolkits, and beyond, Antistat is the world’s #1 supplier of ESD and production consumables. No matter your needs, our experienced team of ESD experts is ready to help you find an ESD solution that works for you. Contact our team today at +1 512 865 4082, or take a look at our full range of products online.

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